Melanie Dobson, Th.D., has joined Lenoir-Rhyne's Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary as assistant professor of Methodist studies.
A graduate of Duke University Divinity School, Dobson has the appropriate knowledge in Methodism needed to train United Methodist Church clergy. LTSS is the only approved seminary in South Carolina for training UMC clergy, and one of fewer than 60 approved seminaries in the United States.
"Theologically, as a fellow mainline denominational seminary, LTSS provides an education that is in concert with the formation desired by the United Methodist Church for its future clergy," Dobson said. "To be ordained as a United Methodist Church elder or deacon in full connection requires theological education at an approved seminary."
Methodist students comprise the second-largest number of students at LTSS, behind only students from the Lutheran denomination. In an effort to provide greater opportunities for the Methodist student population, Dobson plans to develop strong relationships with the South Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church.
"This includes everything from having regular visits from district superintendents and the bishop, to connecting with the South Carolina Board of Ordained Ministry, to my own visits to United Methodist college ministries at schools in South Carolina," Dobson said. "I've also been working with the Methodist Student Society, which is the UMC student organization at LTSS, in an effort to build a strong sense of community."
Dobson's efforts to inform and enlighten students at LTSS has a direct effect on seminarians such as William Altman, a Methodist student currently training to become an ordained elder in the UMC. The Master of Divinity degree he is pursuing at LTSS will provide the theological education needed to help him achieve this dream. "The Master of Divinity degree at LTSS will allow me to spread the hope of Jesus in congregations," Altman said. "My goal is to help our neighbors sow seeds of hope through putting our faith into practice in the United Methodist Church."
With 16 years of experience in ordained leadership, Dobson's background enhances her ability to train students such as Altman for serving congregations. Most recently, she served in Charlotte for four years as minister of faith formation at Myers Park UMC, a congregation with more than 5,300 members and a regular worship attendance of 1,400.
"Dr. Dobson brings not only her expertise in the areas of Methodist history and theology, but also many other gifts that enrich our relationships with Methodist partners such as extensive experience in congregational ministry," said the Rev. Dr. David Ratke, dean of the College of Theology. "The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and LTSS are partners with the United Methodist Church in advancing the gospel of Christ."
Dobson also has a plethora of experience in education and has held positions at Duke University Divinity School as an adjunct professor, instructor, and head teaching assistant, among others. She says her inspiration for teaching comes from the one who gives us breath, the Holy Spirit. "My heart comes alive when I'm teaching," she said. "Irenaeus, an early church father, wrote that 'the glory of God is a human being fully alive.' What a gift to have work in which I come alive."
ABOUT DR. DOBSON
EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Dobson received a Doctor of Theology, Master of Theology, and Master of Divinity from Duke University Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina, where she maintained a 4.0 GPA. Her dissertation, "The Practice of Habits: A Theological Account of Tending to Health," focused on the cultivation of practices of health as a way of virtue that leads to deeper life with God and neighbor. She has also written several articles and a book titled "Health as a Virtue: Thomas Aquinas and the Practice of Habit in Christian Community."
AWARDS AND FELLOWSHIPS: The John Wesley Fellowship - the Association for Theological Education The Fellowship Seminarian Award of the United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts Andrews Scholar - Duke Divinity School, full tuition fi nancial award Phi Beta Kappa - Furman University, national scholastic honor society
HOBBIES: "I practice yoga daily and am also a registered yoga teacher. I teach yoga at churches, in retreat settings, and for cancer survivors. I also enjoy hiking, cycling, cooking, and being outdoors."
FAMILY: "I am a single mom to one son, Elijah, age 9. I'm very close to my parents, brother, and extended family, who live in South Carolina. I'm thrilled to be in the same state with them now."